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  • 1.  PURELY hypothetical risk question....

    Posted 17 days ago
    This may be more of a question for SRA - but let's see....

    And if you believe this is purely hypothetical, well.... I've got a bridge to sell you ;)

    Let's just say a rogue PI might have gone off and applied for a grant without going through our office - not my first rodeo on that particular problem.  Let's just say he got an award, which is of course how we found out about the problem.  You know, this problem that's hypothetical.  (He was trying to ISSUE A SUBAWARD all by himself.  WHAT?????)

    Let us further stipulate that a) this is intended to be an institutional rather than an individual award, per the guidelines and b) universities are not eligible applicants.

    Well, @)#!

    The small foundation sponsor knows the situation and is willing to fund us in contradiction of their own guidelines.  (I'm pretty sure.... that part is still in conversation).  Is there risk here if we accept an award that violates sponsor guidelines, bearing in mind that we can document that we disclosed the problem fully to the sponsor?​   I don't want the university to get smacked around later, but I also don't want the sponsor to get in trouble.  It's a relationship we would like to nurture.

    Now that I think about it, accepting the award could also damage relationships with other local universities - the ones who followed the rules and didn't apply.

    Or... I'm catastrophizing.



    Andrea Buford
    Director, Office of Sponsored Programs
    Oakland University

  • 2.  RE: PURELY hypothetical risk question....

    Posted 14 days ago

    Are Research Foundations eligible? This kind of award sounds like something a University might hypothetically run a proposal through the Foundation side for, if a 501c3 has to apply. If so, I might go that route and ask them to issue the award notice to the correct entity name to lock-in the understanding that you've disclosed openly to the sponsor the situation, and sponsor has confirmed in writing to waive their rules or to reissue to the entity you identify as appropriate.  I would worry less about the relationship with other Universities, we all know things go sideways sometimes-- ultimately it's the sponsor that needs to be accountable for their own rules and if/when to bend them. 

    Cira Mathis, CRA, PMP
    Manager, Internal Programs
    University Sponsored Research
    Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi

  • 3.  RE: PURELY hypothetical risk question....

    Posted 14 days ago
    Cheese and rice! When sponsors have such mixed up guidelines, that makes it really hard. Also you might just ask (if you haven't already), if they understand the potential contradiction in the guidance and maybe offer some revised language for them to clear it up. I agree with Cira that you could get around the whole current minefield with your University Foundation/Development arm if they are a 501c3. I would not be concerned with the relationships with other Universities as they know how the game is played. The relationship with the sponsor is most important, and may even grow stronger if you can help them iron out a better process. If the guidelines are all mixed up, I'm sure they aren't receiving the types of proposals they would really like to see.

    Augusta Isley
    Senior Proposal Manager
    Ball State University

  • 4.  RE: PURELY hypothetical risk question....

    Posted 10 days ago
    You've got some great responses here.  Seeing if your institution's foundation could receive the award seems like a viable option...if you have such an entity and if it makes sense to accept the award.  Perhaps I'm going off on a tangent but...

    Having to retrofit the award eats up a lot of time and energy, but I've done that when we were actually eligible.  The retrofitting process alone was onerous enough for the faculty to not make that mistake again. When I have retrofitted an award by going back and making sure we have all the paperwork that needs to be in place so we can accept the award, the PI has sometimes truly understood why it was a bad idea to go around us.  Examples of mistakes made include wrong or no formula calculations resulting in not having requested enough salary for the amount of work they agreed to do.  No documentation of support from their chair/dean for course buyout or waived IDC.  Overlooked areas of compliance.  Committing university resources (including other people's time) with no authority to do so.  Sometimes we've been able to work something out.  Other times we have not.

    But if we weren't eligible and somehow were still awarded in spite of the guidelines, I think it would be prudent to decline the award explaining why.  If we engage the sponsor on how to revise their own guidelines so we can then be awarded, could that somehow be seen as unethical or a conflict of interest?   Maybe I'm being too nit-picky or overly concerned?

    For those faculty/staff who truly understood it as a learning experience, I've asked if they would do a presentation with us explaining to other faculty/staff why it's important to work with our office.  I'll actually plan on doing that presentation with a couple of PIs who grew to appreciate what we do.

    That's my 2 cents.

    -- alwf

    Audrey Wineglass Foster
    Assistant Dean for OSP + Research Svcs
    Gallaudet University